Devotion: Our Father

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

I have been recently convicted to increase my prayer practices.  I like to run with faster people to increase my pace, and have found myself serving alongside some very prayerful people.  This has caused a hunger like the disciples to deepen my prayer. As I often quip-I am quick to act, slow to pray; so I am trying to reverse that trend.

When the disciples saw the central role prayer played in the life of Jesus they asked him to teach them.  This is the only thing recorded that the disciples specifically ask Jesus to teach them.  Not the rules to a successful life, not how to win friends, not even how to love their enemies, they ask their teacher to teach them to pray because they have witnessed that prayer is the foundation to every other aspect of life.

They’d heard a sermon about prayer (Matthew 5) but now days/weeks later, when they saw him practice prayer, they were hungry to learn.  They saw the idea embodied.

They saw that it directs our gaze away from ourselves to the majesty of our Father. Pray begins when we realize our helplessness.  And it ends when you say Amen.

Luther wrote:

You must always say “Amen” strongly, with all faith, and without doubt that God certainly does hear you and says “yes” to your prayer. Do not think for a moment that you kneel and stand there in prayer alone…Do not leave from your prayers unless you have then said or thought: “Well then, this prayer has been heard by God. I know this for certain and for true.” That is what Amen means.

So, how does Jesus teach them to pray with this confidence? By praying.

Too much in our churchified society, we teach the order of spiritual maturity is something like this:
1) Go to worship
2) Start reading the bible
3) Be in a small group
4) Pray

We act like prayer is the “whip-cream” to a vibrant faith life. The disciples, however, realized the opposite is true. Prayer is the lifeblood of a struggling, infantile, wandering, lumbering and helpless faith life.

Throughout the gospel stories it is only Jesus who is recorded as praying…but after He ascends into heaven, the first act of the disciples is to gather to pray.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying…all these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer. (Acts 1:12-14)

Prayer is not something to be studied, to be mastered, to be explained, to be dissected, to be strategized…it is simply something to be done.

If you wait until you are ready to pray, you will never pray.

Prayer at first–like anything worth doing (like physical exercise)–is strange and weird.  It reminds you how foolish you are.  How awkward you sound, how vast that chasm is between you and your Heavenly Father.  Prayer, at first, is difficult.  But over time the difficulties (the wandering mind, the crunched schedule, the self-righteous smugness), do not go away, but becomes the catalyst that drives us one step closer to Jesus.

So, you want to learn to pray? Then pray.

So join me, as I join Him in prayer:

And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

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